Monday, July 27, 2009

Bakery Boy

Before you read this story, rest assured that I have resisted the urge to make any bad puns/metaphors involving buns or baguettes. Sorry or you're welcome, depending on what you're looking for in a good story involving a fine baked goods salesperson.

I have the opening shift on Thursday mornings, which means yanking myself out of bed at 5:15 AM so that I can arrive at work coherent by 7 AM. Yes, I know a lot of people deal with worse as far as early morning shifts go, but let's just all agree that attempting to be a functional human being at 7 AM is a bitch, kay? One of the things I find most disagreeable about waking with the sun is that my digestive system is not yet working, and while I need food for my system to be fully operational, I just can't take it. My solution has been to have my required 2 cups of coffee at home, and then eat breakfast at work when I finally have a functioning stomach. And this is how I came to discover Bakery Boy.

Across the way from my store is a branch of a bakery well known by Philly food snobs. Their bread products are mighty good, though they go a bit overboard with the multigrain thing. Every one of their locations seems to be staffed by cold, hipper-than-thou twenty-somethings, many with excellent tattoos. Half of these are actually some of the most fabulous people you will ever know, if you can crack the chilly exterior; the other half really are dead-eyed hipsters through and through. Originally, I had put Bakery Boy in the latter category. He never smiled, or really showed any affect, for that matter. He could barely muster a nod to anyone at the other stores. During the times when business was slow, he would hide in the back of his store rather than risk making eye contact and establishing communication with anyone else. Honestly, I thought this was a shame, because Bakery Boy looks like a scrawny caveman (in the best way), with a scrubby beard, long, dark locks, and sinewy arms that establish him in my mind as someone who snuggles tightly (thus well) and could hold his own in a brawl. His brown eyes were shielded by thick, acrylic-rimmed black and white glasses, and despite his standoffish manner, I wanted to believe they were not totally soulless behind the lenses.

And, despite everything, Bakery Boy actually proved himself one of the excellent camp at the bakery. The week I began taking the opening shift, I stumbled over to the bakery for a bagel, and found Bakery Boy manning the counter. I reached into my pocket to pay for my plain with cream cheese, but he stopped me, and with a surprisingly sweet smile said, "Don't worry. It's on us." This became a ritual: At the bakery's opening every Thursday, I would blunder over, ask for my bagel, fein the intention of paying, and Bakery Boy would stop me, handing it over for free. Sometimes there would be a "hi, how are you?" involved, too. Sometimes, I would give Bakery Boy fruit in exchange for his generosity. At this point, I need to add that I was not unique in being the recipient of free baked goods; the co-worker I open with also got them when she went over to the bakery as well. But he and I, we had a special ritual, and I was definitely the only one who could coax a smile out of his skinny face.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. The last couple of weeks, Bakery Boy has not been opening; instead, it is a woman, who, while friendly and talkative, does not give me free bagels. She is also not nearly the sight to behold from across my produce and the bakery's sneeze guard that Bakery Boy was, his strong arms staking fresh bread, the rare smile darting over his caveman face when he caught me looking.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gloom Doom Update

You know, I thought I was doing things right with TQBOAB, being playful and talkative and all that, and he was doing it right back. Today, I was sure, would be the day that one of us would ask the other to hang out sometime. But, of course, today is actually the day I found out he has a girlfriend. Naturally, I discovered this during an exceedingly patronizing talk about how to get involved romantically/sexually/whatever with other people from a friend (if you're sexy as hell and unnaturally outgoing, like her, though she doesn't seem to see that one), who also digs him. Damn.

Over the last two weeks, I had some nice, silly talks with Y when I came in during his shift; he lights up when I come in like a damn puppy (though he is just kind of puppy-like in general). Beginning of a beautiful friendship at least, right? Well, maybe, but he just left for a month and a half long tour with the band he's in. So, in short, the summer romance option is banished from the table with him.

I really wish this were good news.

Either way, I'll tell you about more people soon. My crush well, though certainly depleted, is nowhere near dry.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cheese Man

The Cheese Man works at the cheese counter of a well-known local specialty foods store. I first came to know of him through a friend, C. She is knowledgeable in all things food, especially cheese, so she had frequented this specialty foods store; I suppose this is how she came to know the Cheese Man. Often, our discussions of gourmet food would turn at least once to the specialty foods store, and then she would speak of the Cheese Man in her breathiest, dreamiest tones. Once, while we were out (at a farmers' market, naturally), she spotted him, and we followed him back to his place of employment like a couple of creepers; however, when he got there, she was too flustered to speak to him. I empathized, because I too get a little strange around the dreamier people I know; frankly, though, I didn't see it in him.

I have to admit at this point in the story, though, I had never seen him up close or spoken with him. This changed mid-winter, when I found myself at a free cheese-tasting he hosted. I came early, and saw a small, slender, dark-haired man I thought I had never before seen chatting with my friends. Somewhere in his late twenties, with a well-kept beard (facial hair, if you can't tell, is really half the battle for me) and an almost giddy grin, the Cheese Man came forward and introduced himself. I had to steel my will not to let my jaw drop and squeel, "You? You're the Cheese Man?" I finally understood what had turned normally friendly, socially adept C into a pool of crush-induced fear. We proceded to make a little small talk, bantering about our discomfort with veganism (of course). It was then time for the tasting; the Cheese Man told the group something interesting about each selection, giving history as well as suggestions for food and alcohol pairings. The man knows his stuff. Aglow with that feeling that only a brand-new crush can give you, and ridiculously proud of myself for being able to shoot the breeze with him like it was nothing, I went home satisfied. I was later even informed by someone in the know that he is single. Things were looking up.

However, the Cheese Man seems to have a mysterious power over the younger foodie ladies. Anytime I had a reason to go to the specialty foods store, I would reason my way out of it, secretly afraid I would make a fool of myself in front of the Cheese Man. C and I even went in to buy cheese (stalk him), and both of us found ourselves tongue-tied (even though C's cheese knowledge may rival even that of the Cheese Man himself). Damn him and his mastery of all things dairy and his winning smile and his dreamy brown eyes. It's only doing him so much good if it makes anyone who is interested in him too crushed out to speak.

Recently, I learned I will be working with the Cheese Man. Admittedly, my crush has waned a bit since winter, but I still worry about my ability to string together multiple syllables while speaking to him. We shall see; it could be an adventure.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Quintessential Boy-on-a-Bike

On Friday, I met The Quintessential Boy-on-a-Bike (TQBOAB) while at work. He's new on the job, and we have overlapping shifts. A tall, scruffy, skinny blonde in his mid-twenties with a facial piercing (any guesses on how many times that at least 5 words from that phrase will be repeated in these writings?), he was under my watchful eye as he learned the ropes of the job. He quickly proved to be quite adept, and thus things were done efficiently and we were able to talk. TQBOAB is bright and amusing, and quick to laugh. He likes cream and honey in his coffee. He works for an organization that does bike deliveries. Though kind of one of those Philly hipsters with a bike, he still made me all gooey inside. And motivated me to finally bring my bike into the city (Well, he's not all that motivated me, but it was certainly the last big push I needed).

As the day wore on, we began to tease each other, and we started making gently dirty jokes about the work we were doing. Every time he saw me, he got a big, stupid grin on his face (though it could have been in response to the one I was most certainly wearing). In short: I think TQBOAB digs me, and I dig him right back. Stay tuned for more (like, when I next see him and he introduces his gorgeous boyfriend to me, as is bound to happen. Let's be realistic).


We work at the same company, and I've seen him before, but last night was the first time we actually met. It was a 4th of July potluck for those who work for the organization we're both a part of. A scruffy, skinny fellow in his mid-twenties, with an unruly head of dark brown hair and a wicked grin, he caught my eye right away by being almost a caricature of my type. He was standing in the cluster of people I most wanted to spend time with; though this group contained people mostly between the ages of 23 and 33, we still kept splitting into a boys' circle and a girls' circle like participants in a middle school dance. Despite this, I kept finding myself in the boys' circle, drawn in mostly by Y's outrageous stories. The boy is funny, like pee-your-pants-but-it-was-worth-it-because-you'll-never-laugh-that-hard-again funny. At one point, he was able to unite the groups by giving a dissertation on Mormon teens who preserve their technical virginities by practicing, among other sordid acts, "armpit fucking."

As the evening wore on, the groups shuffled about. At one point, Y and I found ourselves in our own conversation, both at least two beers past sobriety. I can't quite remember what we talked about, though it had something to do with Sheryl Crow and the worthlessness of our moon, and involved a lot of toasting. Whatever it was, it made me happy, and I laughed more last night than I have in a long time.

Eventually, some of the girls at the party wanted to go down to the concerts at the Parkway, and because I had planned to meet some other friends down there and wasn't particularly keen on going down later by myself, I went with them. Y and the rest of the boys' circle stayed. He had another party to go to, and we probably would have split up awkwardly at that point anyway, but as I stood waiting for The Roots to come on and making polite conversation with the other girls, I couldn't help but feel a pang of regret for leaving. I don't honestly think Y and I would have ended up having hot sex under the fireworks; frankly, I don't know if he's taken or even into girls (With my luck, he's probably in a committed relationship with a sexy, wonderful man). However, I am sad to think that I have missed even five minutes more of wild, witty conversation with him, and that we could have possibly even have exchanged numbers for more.

In the end, though, I am truly just happy it happened. This 4th of July will be a warm memory cast in a beer-y glow of dirty, irreverent conversation somewhere in not-quite-gentrified West Philly. And I will perhaps find myself just happening to come into work during Y's shift, in hopes of some more naughty back-and-forth.

In which I explain myself

As my friends and loved ones know, I like talking about the people I, to put it in very 3rd grade terms, like. For a very long time, I was ashamed of my tendency to slip these people at least once into every conversation I had; it seemed silly and shallow, and I winced at myself upon recalling the discussions later. However, I've learned lately to embrace this part of me. My fascination with my crushes comes from a larger fascination I have with the small details of the lives of everyone I know, which is a big (and in my opinion, positive) part of who I am and how I deal with other people. Also, I've been informed I can tell a good story.

And I like sex and making out and holding hands and hearing Weezer's "El Scorcho" in the back of my head every time that special someone enters the room. Mostly, I experience only the last bit, because I'm awkward and shy and oblivious when someone is coming on to me and I don't meet many new people (I have a litany of other excuses which I would be more than happy to review for you). But, none the less, I still love talking about the people who make me all ridiculous.

So, I will write about my crushes here. Some of them are the regular I-want-to-go-out-with-you-and-have-all-kinds-of-sex-and-ride-bikes-all-over-town sort of crush, the kind that could actually become something. Some are the kind that stem from extreme attraction, the kind that make me effectively into a person who has undergone a full frontal lobotomy. And some are the hypothetical kind, crushes on the married/gay/seriously taken/bosses who are still awesome and who I would be all over at another time, in another life. My crushes are mostly dudes (hence the title), but I have been known to dig a lady or two, and they will certainly find their way in as they come. Unfortunately, there will be no pictures, as that would be creepy and illegal. But I will try to paint a picture for you with my prose stylings.

Now, please join me, as I become a puddle of shy adoration (Amelie-style) all over the streets of Philly.